Microsoft declares war against pirates, angers China

Microsoft announced a global initiative against the threat of software piracy and has already incurred the wrath of Chinese computer users.

As the company announced Global Anti-Piracy Day', which it called a worldwide education and enforcement initiative against piracy, Chinese internet users were up in arms about a new anti-piracy tool which turned their screens black if the installed software failed a validation test.

In China, where the vast majority of their 200 million users were using counterfeit software, bloggers were up in arms about Microsoft "intruding" into their computers, with an accusation that it was the "biggest hacker in China".

One blogger wrote: "Microsoft has no right to control my hardware without my agreement." Another wrote: "If the price of genuine software was lower than the fake one, who would buy the fake one?"

A Chinese lawyer wrote that if Microsoft caused serious functional damage with the tool, it could stand accused of breaching and hacking into computer systems.

The controversy came as Microsoft announced programmes which included intellectual property awareness campaigns, engagement with businesses, educational forums, law enforcement training, and new legal steps against counterfeit software makers and pirates.

David Finn, associate general counsel for Worldwide Anti-Piracy and Anti-Counterfeiting at Microsoft, said: "Microsoft is driving anti-piracy efforts across countries and continents through an equally sophisticated system of business intelligence, forensics and education.

"Together, we are working to identify international connection points between software pirates and counterfeiters, to help stop them in their tracks and protect consumers and legitimate businesses from this illegal trade."

(With files from Reuters.)